Soil Management

Soil Management

Soil Management ensures the capacity of agricultural soils to sustain productivity, maintain overall environmental quality, and promote plant and animal health.


Agricultural soils in Minnesota provide optimum media for diverse crop growth. Managing soil quality with the objectives of regulating water transfer and improving environmental filtration can be accomplished by assessing the need for and adapting one or more soil management approaches, which are described below:


Conservation tillage leaves the previous year's crop residue on fields before and after planting the next crop, to reduce soil erosion and runoff. To provide these conservation benefits, at least 30% of the soil surface must be covered with residue after planting the next crop. Some conservation tillage methods forego traditional tillage entirely and leave 70% residue or more.


No-till involves planting crops directly into residue that hasn't been tilled at all.


Strip-till involves planting in narrow strips with the rest of the field left untilled.


Ridge-till involves planting row crops on permanent ridges at a height of 4-6 inches. The previous crop's residue is cleared off ridge-tops into adjacent furrows to make way for the new crop being planted.


Mulch-till is any other reduced tillage system that leaves at least one third of the soil surface covered with crop residue.


Agronomy is the application of soil and plant science to crop production, incorporating practices that improve agricultural productivity and sustainability.


The American Society of Agronomy warehouses volumes of useful information on soil management. Learn more at


The University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water and Climate ( works to improve and protect resources and enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability through research and education.